The ancient wood sculptures of the Inyai-Ewa andneighboring groups of the upper Korewori River, a southerntributary of the Sepik, are the earliest Melanesianwoodcarvings to survive in any substantial numbers. Kept inrock shelters, which protected them from the elements, thefigures were primarily created between the sixteenth andnineteenth centuries. They occur in several forms andportray a variety of supernatural beings. Broad, flat femaleimages such as the one seen here are, at times, identified as representations of two primordial sisters who helped to shape the world or as the female ancestors or founders of particular clans. Two-legged male figures also likely portrayprimordial clan ancestors.The most abundant Inyai-Ewa carvings are the one-leggedmale figures, known as aripa. Kept in the men’s ceremonialhouse during the owner’s life and placed in a rock shelter asa memorial after his death, aripa represented spirits thatresided within the images and served as hunting helpers,aiding in the capture of game such as wild pigs andcassowaries (large ostrich-like birds).